gray whale migration Gray Whale Migration NewsGray Whale Migration Map Gray Whales for Kids Explore Gray Whale Resources Gray Whale Home Page Gray Whale Facts

Gray Whale Adaptations: Flippers
<< Back to Main Lesson

Click on drawing to see labeled enlargement

  Paddles to Turn and Steer

  • As whales adapted to life in water, the shoulder remained movable while the elbow and wrist stiffened. The forelimbs became rigid paddles (flippers). Two large flippers are located about 1 meter (3 feet) behind and below the eyes. These pectoral fins help the whale steer and turn and balance.
  • The skeleton of a gray whale flipper has four long finger-like digits and looks similar to a human hand. The digits in the flippers cannot be moved individually like our fingers can, but whales use the entire flipper. For example, a whale mother can use her flippers to hold her baby close while it nurses.
  • Gray whales have no dorsal fin. This makes it easier for them to swim through and sometimes under heavy ice floes.

These breeching whales are showing one of their powerful flippers.


Journey North Home Page   Facebook Pinterest Twitter   Annenberg Media Home Page
Copyright 1997-2017 Journey North. All Rights Reserved.   Contact Us    Search